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Burnham, Benjamin F.


Age: 33, credited to Newbury, VT
Unit(s): 8th VT INF, 84th USCI, 87th USCI
Service: enl 12/30/63, m/i 12/31/63, Pvt, Co. F, 8th VT INF, m/o 12/13/64 for pr in colored troops; 2LT, 84th USCI, and 87th USCI [College: WU 52]

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: 11/30/1830, Groton, VT
Death: 05/21/1898

Burial: Groton Cemetery, Groton, VT
Marker/Plot: Section 1 Row 7
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Heidi McColgan
Findagrave Memorial #: 108898233


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 3/5/1870
Portrait?: Unknown
College?: WU 52
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: Pension index card does not include 8th VT INF


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Copyright notice



Groton Cemetery, Groton, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


Benjamin Franklin Burnham was born in Groton, Vt., 30 November 1830. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1852, was Principal of the Academic Department of Newark Wesleyan Institute, NJ, from 1853 to 1854. He moved to Illinois, where he was Principal of Lewiston Seminary in 1856, and taught and studied law in Chicago. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Illinois from 1857 to 1861, and District and Circuit Courts from 1861 to 1863. He returned to Newbury, Vt., in 1863, and enlisted in Co. F, 8th Vermont volunteers in late 1863. In 1864 he was detailed as assistant superintendent of education of freedmen in Louisiana, and in 1865 commanded a company of United States colored infantry at Palmetto Ranch. Subsequently, he was detailed to the Freedmen's Bureau to establish schools among the Negroes, and while engaged in this work aft Monroe, La., he was wounded by a mob that opposed such schools. In 1867 he settled in Boston, where for five years he was an associate justice of the South Boston Court. Since 1879 he had applied himself wholly to the preparation of digests and legal works. In addition to his law writings, he was the author of the " Life of Lives," "Elsmere Elsewhere," several theological works, and treatises on chess. He died in South Boston 21 May 1898.

He married, 4 November 1861, Miss Celeste Shute of Waukegan, 111., who died 22 March 1880. A son, born in 1862, died in infancy.


Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn. Alumni record of Wesleyan university, Middletown, Conn, Volumes 1881-1883, (Case, Lockwood & Brainard, Hartford, CT, 1883), 120
The Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of important Events of the year 1898, (D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1899), 528.


THE CALEDONIAN: March 25, 1864



FRIEND CALEDONIAN: --- Many of your readers may be interested to know the progress of their friends who left Brattleboro on the 26th of February, constituting the second detatchments of recruits of our 7th and 8th regiments, and the 1st and 2d batteries---Hence I may not while away a closing hour of our voyage better than by apprising them thereof:

To New Haven by the cars, thence to New York by the Steamer Elm City, we embarked on board the transpprt G.B. McClellan and left the wharf before noon of Saturday----But the steamer paused in the harbor till mid-afternoon, receiving by smaller craft , additional troops and suppiles and seconding the detection of certain bounty jumpers and deserters.

There are over 500 of us in all, the chief detachments besides ours being to the 47th Pa., and the 159th N.Y., and the 9th and 13th Ct. The great part of the latter are the very offscourings of New York and Connecticut manufacturing cities, being covered with lice and infected with the itch and whatever coetaneous disease is not mentioned in the rejection articles.In our country's present exigency, when great crowds must be huddled on board a large vessel, with the privations necessitated by the proper precautions against fire and accident, we ought not to demand overmuch in the shape of bunk accomodations or frequency of cooked rations! But we have the right to expect not to be forced into loathsome fellowship with drunken robbers and abandoned ruffians. We have only been saved from a regular New York riot on board by the efficient bravery of Captain Landers in charge of the Connecticut detachment and of Lt. Kennedy of the 9th Ct., who nipped the thing in the bud by gradually making over thirty arrests, and putting ten characters in irons. Among the latter fron Connecticut were identified one or two Five Point roughs, from one of whom has been discharged but without injury. Several robberies were committed in regular highway style; as an instance the three following among our Vermont boys: On Sunday afternoon, feb. 27, as Alfred Corey, of West Fairlee was standing a little apart from the hatchway in the hold, a man wearing a sash and partial insigna of captain, accompanied by two others suddenly accosted him with a charge of having sold whiskey on board, and a demand to search his pockets for liquor invoices. The two palls siezed and searched him, taking from him his wallet containing $76. The following night Benj. H. Wooster of Highgate and Geo. W. Ellis of Cavendish were rudely dragged from their bunk by six roughs, a similar demand made, their knapsacks and and pockets ransacked and from the former $14, and from the latter $48 taken. Others suffered from the thefts of their knapsacks, Dr. Hungerford of Windsor losing his valuable box of surgical tools worth nearly $40.

But some scenes more ludicrous than horrible have transpired to relive the monotony of the voyage. It looked rather naughty in Lt. Kennedy to drag on board two or three humble working men in dilapidated citizens dress, piteously protesting their total innocence of anything in the shape of greenbacks or allegiance. But off was torn the lions skin and bran new shirts and drawers, of the genuine Uncle Sam stripe, told a different tale of the latter, while of the former divers carefully folded wads from an armpit, a lining, or elsewhere stood confessed as filthy lucre.This is not unfrequent detection of deserters whose regiment and antecedent are unknown is somewhat an offset to those deserters which seen never to be traced or replaced.

On Tuesday, the 1st inst, there occurred the excitement of a man overboard. ( it was a recruit of the 47th Pa.), who had been suffering from the twin consequences of whiskey-sickness and delirum-- and who, though under guard, had in a moment of patriotic hallucination escaped attention, and exclaiming, " Here's for the Union", jumped overboard. A boat was lowered, but the sea was rough and he sank before reached. His name was Pat O'Brian, and like his namesake of, frog-song memory, it appears he was equally incapable of taking the "croakers" advice to "go round" either kind of "drink". The most prompt in the boat and successful at the oar was John Bronghton, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a colored steward. Alas! For us Caucasians, that facts are stubborn things; that the standing on the deck with bright shoulder straps and folded arms will sometimes be a monopoly of something else than glory --- Ah! Johnny Broughton, that you should jump into a boat under the uncertainly loosening pulley's patiently push her from the spattering, hesitating wheel, while Capt. Gray others tardy "white" assistance to your side, and then buffet the seething breakers to rescue an unfortunate child of Erin --- say, was it a freak of gratitude that his race has always been so tender to the lives and happiness of yours? Don't you know, you heinous biped, that you deserve a cat-o-nine-tails for imperatively forcing me a "Caucasian" to think of a spirit that once rode on the Sea of Galilee/ for overmastering me into reflections which exceedingly wound my 'amour proper'?

We arrived at Key West on Saturday noon, the 6th inst.--- a run generally made by the McClellanin six days. I there learned that the vessels daily pass with mails from new Orleans to new York, a steamers ship averaging nine or ten days, so your readers can compute fro themselves their time of correspondence with their gulf friends.

How strange it seams a week after quitting February snow, to stand on land scorched by a June sun, and walk along gardens in verdure and blossom---indeed, in fructification, for the cocoa trees so plentifully scattered through the city are now loaded with green fruit; or, after a week's "subsistence" on hard tack, bean porridge, etc, . to sit down to a restaurant table, with doors and windows wide open, brush away the house flies, and pitch into the sweet potatoes, pine apples and "sich like" But the most acceptable thing to my capricious, loathing, craving stomach after the sea sickness was the green lemons and limes, of the latter of which I decided to share with the recruits of the 7th Regiment.

But my letter is growing longer than intended---interrupted by frequent glances from my paper to the beautiful sugar plantations and green orange orchards along the shores. Negroes waving hats and hankerchiefs are plenty, but " white "bokra" are "mighty skase" to be seen.

And now, as the night approaches, and the lights of the Crescent City gleam in the distance, I bid you good-bye for the present, soon to bid a more permanent adieu to the officers temporarily commanding us. And this reminds me that after the above just compliment to two of them it would be injustice to omit to mention that the efficience of Capt. Landers and Lt. Kennedy as commanders of barbarians, is well equaled by that of Lt. Adams as having charge of us civilized Vermonters; his quiet and unassuming intelligence fully justify the good judgement of Major Austine in selecting the right man for the right place.




OCT. 14, 1864

FRIEND CALEDONIAN: The 7th Vermont Regiment arrived here last evening upon the transport Cassandra. It will probably be stationed near this city. From one of its officers I learned further details of Gen Ashboth's raid into West Florida, and the battle of Marianna, in which Capt. Mahlon M. Young of Co. H. was killed.

It appeared Capt. Young was the only member of the 7th in the expedition. He volunteered to participate in it; and to the last moment was conspicuous for noble and heroic conduct. He fell by buckshot wounds received while leading the charge against the town.

The expedition of the 2d Maine cavalry, two companies of the 1st Florida cavalry and two companies of the 82 U.S (colored) Infantry temporarily mounted. They embarked at Barrancas, on the 16th Sept, landing at DuPoint, opposite Pensacola, and marching thence inland. At Euchelia, 50 miles from the coast they surprised and captured a body of 25 rebel cavalry, who were engaged in enforcing conscription. They crossed the Choctawhatchee River at Cero Gordo, and upon arriving at Marianna, the county seat of Jackson County were met by a volley from a body of Rebel cavalry. A charge was ordered, and the rebels were ultimately driven from the town, not withstanding their street barricades, and the co-operation of a body of militia, who, concealed in houses, churches, and stores, opened a furious fire upon our cavalry. The 2d Maine suffered most severely. Lieuts Ayer and Adams were killed, and Major Cutler and Hutchinson dangerously wounded. Gen Ashboth had his left arm broken twice and his jaw fractured by a ball entering the cheek.

The raid, however, was a great success, as we obtained a large supply of stores, 200 horses and mules, 400 cattle, and 1000 contrabands. We also took a large number of prisoners; among them Brig. Gen. Anderson and Col. A.B. Montgomery, a West Pointer.


Correspondence courtesy of Deanna French.

8th Vermont Infantry Regimental History



Benjamin F. Burnham, who died in Boston May 21 and whose remains were brought to town for burial last Wednesday, was born in town November 10, 1830.Mr, Burnham was a lawyer of exceptional knowledge and a gentleman of fine address and pleasing attainments. He was graduated from the Newbury seminary and later from the Wesleyan university at Middletown, Conn. After completing his education he went to Chicago, where he was a teacher in the public schools some years. He enlisted in the civil war in 1863 and was made captain of a colored company which did good service. At the close of the war he identified himself with a southern educational society and became prominent in establishing schools. Later he returned to Newbury and began the practice of law. He remained in that town only a short time, moving to Boston in 1870, where he was made a judge of the South Boston police court. During the latter years of his life he did much work in compiling law books for Little, Brown & Co., and also wrote a law book which was published by a New York firm. He had a most remarkable memory and was sometimes referred to as the walking encyclopedia. He had a keen sense of propriety and always adhered to it. His kindliness of heart and helpful generosity endeared him to a wide circle of friends. Although Judge Burnham failed to make a mark as a financier, the world is better for his having lived and everyone who knew him will deeply mourn his demise.

Source: Argus and Patriot, June 1, 1898.
Courtesy of Tom Boudreau.